Feathers, Foraging, Food & Fog

Posted by Raz on Feb 1st, 2009
Feb 1

The last two days we have had no feather snipping. What’s changed? A few things, though I don’t know if any of them are related.

  • Moisture: I’ve been using the new humidifier a lot this week, including right next to the Grey’s perch at night. Last night we had thick fog — which means we had a relative humidity swing from around 20% to 100% and back again within 24 hours. But at least part of that time was moist.
  • Exercise: We’ve flown 3 days in a row, with very good behavior every time. Though flying well may not be directly related to decreased snipping at all, it has resulted in longer outings, which in turn has made her calmer and sleepier in the evening. It also makes me happier and more relaxed being able to allow her more exercise again.
  • Even more foraging! I stocked up yesterday at Whole Foods with fun greens like parsley, kale, dandelion greens, whole topped carrots, and have been stuffing them in more places around their cage, toys, and rope net, along with tissue paper for shredding, and a few treats hidden inside. Here’s a new foraging toy I found at Parrot Festival that’s a big hit.

  • foraging

  • Preening: more vigorous! Yeah, sounds counter-intuitive. Carly used to preen so rambunctiously that she’d occasionally break feathers. But she does far more damage with the focused, careful preening which often ends with a snip at the end lately. If I encourage her verbally or with physical roughhousing, she can get very excited preening: fluffing and shaking and hanging upside down. So now instead of pleading “pleeeease be careful with your feathers” I ruffle her up or tease her, “careful with those pretty feathers!” The occasional broken feather sure beats going bald.
  • Diet change. While providing more intersting foraging, I’ve changed to a less varied base diet of Lafebre’s pellets, which she used to get in small amounts. This was motivated by wanting to increase the value of some of her training treats (see previous post). Again, I don’t know if this is causally related to her snipping. But it does seem to increase her interest in other foods, both those used as treats, and those used for foraging. Both she and Piper are shredding their veggies with gusto, and spending even more time playing in and around their cage and gyms.

new foraging toy

So, while I’ve been writing several posts, Carly and Piper have been sitting on me preening for a long time, and not a single feather tip has come floating down. (Though my head is covered in Piper dandruff.) Hoping this continues.


Toys shown in pictures are the refillable Foraging Surprise and Star Bird’s Lovely Bunch of Coconuts. Here is a good sample of the many foraging toys available. But remember, even the good ones are only as good as you make them by filling them up daily!


Parrots and Humidity (or lack thereof)

Posted by Raz on Jan 15th, 2009
Jan 15

Just came across an excellent blog post that got me thinking about the huge humidity swings we are having in southern California this year. One week we are having cold rain and fog, the next a warm and extremely dry Santa Ana wind. We’re having the latter this week, and I’ve noticed much more vigorous preening going on with Carly and Piper. It was actually on my mind in the wee hours tonight before I just happened on this post by Jamie in Austin.

Importance of Humidity for Companion Parrots